Oregon Innovators Featured in Exhibition on Global Prosthetic Design

February 27, 2018 | | View Comments

Experience the life-changing work of Oregon-based innovators at Bespoke Bodies: The Design & Craft of Prosthetics.

Bespoke Bodies is a major exhibition exploring the past, present, and future of prosthetic designers, innovators, and users from around the world. Premiering here in Portland, the show includes local individuals, organizations, and programs that are leading the charge to change the lives of people living with limb loss, including para-athletes, children, and more!

Visit the exhibition at PNCA’s Center for Contemporary Art and Culture through May 9th to learn about these local stories and more!

Nike Sole
Beaverton, Oregon

Photo Courtesy of Nike

In 2011, Nike teamed up with Icelandic Orthotics & Prosthetics manufacturer, Össur, and former Paralympic Athlete Sarah Reinertsen to improve the sport of running for athletes with lower limb prostheses. Together they designed the durable Nike Sole to be worn with Össur’s Flex-Run prosthetic running blade, creating an innovation unlike any other. Athlete Innovation Director at Nike, Tobie Hatfield wanted to tackle the challenges Reinertsen and athletes with limb differences faced through improved design. Previously, competitive athletes with lower-limb differences tended to remove the outsoles of traditional running shoes and adhere them onto their prostheses—a cobbling approach that had become the norm. Paired with the running blade, the Nike Sole design now allows athletes quick preparation, more traction, and helps athletes improve their mobility and speed. 

Open Prosthetics
Portland, Oregon

Photo Courtesy of Swanny Mouton

Retired U.S. Marine Capt. Jon Kuniholm is the founder of the Open Prosthetics Project, a forum for collaboration among users, designers, and funders with the goal of improving prosthetic design and performance. Before going on tour in Iraq in 2004, Jon worked as an industrial designer and researcher. He brought these talents to Iraq, serving as an engineer officer for 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines. On New Year’s Day in 2005, he suffered extensive injuries from an explosion near Haditha which resulted in the loss of his right arm below the elbow. Jon was later rehabilitated at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C., where he became inspired to pursue the development of prosthetic technology and debunk myths about the progress of modern prostheses.  Through the Open Prosthetics Project and his own research, Jon hopes to help create a prosthetic arm that exceeds past technological developments, performance, and comfort.

Oregon Health & Science University & Dr. Albert Chi
Portland, Oregon

Photo Courtesy of Johns Hopkins University

Albert Chi began working with DARPA and Johns Hopkins University in 2010 orchestrating a program that would allow amputees with upper extremity injuries to control their limbs using intuitive thought through targeted muscle reinnervation. Hailed the most advanced prosthetic technology of its time, the Modular Prosthetic Limb  reroutes the nerves from the amputated limb to healthy muscles in the residual limb. Revolutionizing the relationship between humans and machines, Dr. Chi is at the cusp of technology enhancing the lives of amputees with an emphasis on motor control. His work with OHSU extends from advanced robotics to creating 3D printed prosthetics using shelf-bought materials. His involvement in the two extremities show that his goals vary from providing advanced and functional robotic prosthetics, to offering affordable and easy-to-use prosthetics. Dr. Chi is the receiver of the Outstanding Faculty of the Year award at the Johns Hopkins University, Department of Emergency Medicine three years in a row: a testament to his vision and drive as he continues to push the boundaries of possibility within robotics.

*Featured event: 
Exclusive Field Trip with Hanger Clinic, Dr. Albert Chi, and Johnny Matheny

April 24 • 6:00-9:00pm 
Join this one-of-a-kind experience featuring an exclusive tour of Hanger clinic, followed by dinner with prosthetics legend Dr. Chi and his patient Johnny, who sports the most technologically-advanced prosthetic arm in the world.

Hanger Clinic 
Clackamas, Medford, Portland, Roseburg, Salem, & Springfield, 

Photo Courtesy of Hanger Clinic

Hanger Clinic is the world’s leading provider of orthotic and prosthetic services, and offers advanced prosthetic devices and products, clinical programs, and rehabilitative care. Nine clinics are concentrated within the state of Oregon, Portland being the home of four. With over 2,000 clinical providers, Hanger services patients with the latest in innovative orthotic and prosthetic technologies, specialized training and superior care. Inviting patients to come into the clinic and take advantage of a free evaluation, Hanger promises to provide expert recommendations for fit, comfort or function at no cost other than the informed satisfaction of their visitors. Hanger clinic was founded by James Edward Hanger who was not only the first amputee of the Civil War, but also the man who took his services with him on the road attempting to help amputees like him recover with the best prosthetic care possible. Portland remains a site of high astounding prosthetic advancements. The Hanger team has developed many innovative solutions and new technologies in prosthetic socket design. Collaborating with the wide array of clinicians, clinical providers, designers and willing patients, Portland leads prosthetic design in strides towards the future.

Adaptive Design Program
University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon

Photo Courtesy of University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is improving athletic wear design for adaptive athletes thanks to a unique curriculum launched in their Product Design Program. The studio, Adaptive Products: Enabling Para-Athletic Performance, was first offered in 2012. Wilson Smith, Design Director at Nike and adjunct instructor for the class, leads students through the adaptive design process, pushing them to think of each challenge in a new way while keeping the end-user experience in mind. They collaborate directly with the athletes they design for, creating a dialogue that allows for modifications, prototype development, and ultimately designs that enable athletes to compete at their highest potential with greater safety and comfort. In 2016, the class focused on creating gear for wheelchair rugby, working closely with members of the Portland Pounders and the USA Wheelchair Rugby team.

Portland, Oregon – new local chapter!

Photo Courtesy of Jen Owen

The e-NABLE Community connects volunteers and those in need of upper-limb prosthetic devices with “how to” tutorials, free 3D printable hand designs, informational support, volunteer resources, and more. Made up of a global network surpassing 15,000 volunteers, the e-NABLE Community designs, prints, and donates “helper hands” free of charge to children and adults. The local Portland chapter is critical since it is working face-to-face with communities in a shared language and cultural context. By delivering individualized devices that patients love rather than the “one size fits all”.

*Featured event: 
Workshop: Hand Built Hands

April 7 • 10:00am-12:00pm
Bring the whole family to build 3D-printed prosthetic hands for those in need.

Eastside Orthotics & Prosthetics
Portland, Oregon

Jeffrey Warila at Portland, OR based Eastside Orthotics & Prosthetics, developed a program coined the Surelimb system. It is a socket production technique that blends hands on casting and weight bearing analysis with the precision of computer aided design. Jeffrey recognized early on that each socket is as unique as the person who wears it, and he wanted to develop a technique that would deliver consistent, reproducible, and accurate results. Bringing forth the skill set of designers and clinicians, Eastside Or & Pro is offering Portland access to some of the most advanced socket technology.

Check out the unique prosthetic foot collection they provided in the exhibition, and learn more about Eastside O&P’s local practice and impact here!

To learn more about local Portland innovators and other organizations advancing technology in the prosthetic limb fabrication industry, visit the free exhibition!

Bespoke Bodies: The Design & Craft of Prosthetics
On View: Center for Contemporary Art & Culture at PNCA
February 15-May 9, 2018